John Frost “Programming Lessons We Can Learn from Hurricane Harvey”

Published On September 10, 2017 » 366 Views»


Wow!  What a week for our friends along the Texas gulf coast in the path of Hurricane Harvey.  I personally have friends, co-workers, and family with flooded homes and disrupted lives.   As the Christian radio and music industry heads to Universal Orlando for CMB’s Momentum the Weather Channel beacons out the cone of uncertainty for Hurricane Irma.   It’s never a good thing when you see Jim Cantore standing in your front yard.  

In times like these there are lessons to be learned, even about our programming.   

The power of ‘now’.   

You may have never thought about it this way but ‘now’ is the only thing all your listeners have in common. More than ‘local’, since local neighborhood is far different than local region, and more than even ‘beliefs and values’ since we all come from different backgrounds and perspectives.  The more your radio station lives in ‘now’, the more likely you’ll connect with the largest possible audience.  I regularly challenge my stations with, “How can we make it ‘today’ in ‘your city’?”  

(BTW, the power of ‘now’ is the main reason I think there will never be a successful CCM oldies format.  There will always be more people that have ‘now’ in common than ‘then’ in common, but that’s a Frost Advisory for another hurricane.)  

The power of ‘community’.  

It’s been said that radio is the original social media.  We all need to know that we’re not alone.  

“Comebacks always involve other people.  The way we get out of trouble is by letting other people in to the reality of where we are.”  Louie Giglio 

The more someones with something in common the more someones there will be.  

That’s why the seductive concept of ‘variety’ of programming elements doesn’t really work, because ‘variety’ results in fewer things your listeners have in common.  

The power of ‘trust’.   

“We trust those with whom we are able to perceive common values or beliefs.”  Sometimes it occurs incidentally.  “We’re not friends with everyone from our hometown, but travel across the state, and you may meet someone from your hometown and you instantly have a connection with them.”  Simon Sinek

Trust can be developed instantly because of a ‘shared’ traumatic experience like Hurricane Harvey.  You won’t ask for a background check from a stranger in a boat when they’re reaching out their hand to you in a flood.  

The power of storytelling.  

We’re naturally drawn to stories of sacrifice, generosity, and selflessness.  They resonate deep in our souls.  We are inspired by the likes of J.J. Watts of the Houston Texans, who has used his knowness to raise over $18 million for hurricane victims.  We’re amazed with Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, who opened his 160,000 square foot furniture showroom for hurricane victims.  He’s so beloved that 10,000 signatures have already been gathered on a petition to create a Mattress Mack day in the city of Houston.  

“It’s what I believe.  It’s who I am.  It’s what I do.  It’s what my wife and I are trying to teach our children.  Service above self.”  

Mattress Mack

The stories of these heroes resonates deep in our our souls.   It’s like a cold water in the face reminder that THIS is how life should be.   Our radio stations can be transformed if we choose to learn from it.   

*This Frost Advisory is dedicated to the remarkable men and women of KSBJ in Houston, Texas.   


John is a partner in Goodratings Strategic Services, and has been a successful major market disc jockey and program director for such companies as CBS, Cap Cities, Westinghouse, Sandusky, Gannett, and Alliance during his 38 year broadcast career.  John joined Goodratings’ partner Alan Mason in 1999. Contact John  at john@goodratings.com

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